Ask an Award Booker: “How Can I Use 400,000 American Airlines Miles for a Trip to the South Pacific?”

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Ask an Award Booker:  “How Can I Use 400,000 American Airlines Miles for a Trip to the South Pacific?”

Million Mile SecretsAsk an Award Booker:  “How Can I Use 400,000 American Airlines Miles for a Trip to the South Pacific?”Million Mile Secrets Team

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We’re trying something new!   Our award booker posts will answer a reader’s specific award booking question and show folks exactly how to find and book a similar trip.  

We can’t wait to answer your questions and get you Big Travel with your hard-earned miles & points!

Today’s question comes from Jason, who commented:

My family has ~400,000 American Airlines miles.  We’d really like to organize a trip to South Pacific from the Philadelphia / New York City area.  Is this possible?  We need 5 tickets:   2 adults, 1 soon-to-be 4-year-old, one 3-year-old, and a 16-month-old.

Any advice is very appreciated!

 

 

Hi Jason!  Good news!

Your 16-month-old can fly as a lap child, so doesn’t necessarily need an award ticket (but you’ll have to pay a fee).  And you have more than enough American Airlines miles to fly your family to the South Pacific!

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
Jason Can Fly His Family to Beautiful Sydney With the Miles He Already Has!

Here’s how to do it.

How to Fly a Family of 5 to the South Pacific With American Airlines Miles

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

Link:   American Airlines Partner Award Chart

1.   Where Can You Go?

American Airlines’ definition of the South Pacific is quite broad.  It includes:

  • Australia
  • Easter Island
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Guam
  • Kiribati
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Palau
  • New Caledonia
  • Republic of Tonga
  • Republic of Vanuatu
  • American Samoa and Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tuvalu
Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
Thrill-Seekers Could Jet Ski in the Incredible Crystal-Clear Waters of the South Pacific for Just 80,000 American Airlines Miles Round-Trip in Coach

2.   How Much Does It Cost?

Round-trip saver award tickets to spots like Sydney or other South Pacific destinations (whether you fly on American Airlines or partner airlines) cost:

  • 80,000 American Airlines miles in coach
  • 160,000 American Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 220,000 American Airlines miles in First Class

So with your 400,000 American Airlines miles, you have just enough to fly your family of 5 round-trip in coach from the US to the South Pacific (5 passengers X 80,000 miles per ticket).

But you could save 80,000 American Airlines miles by flying your 16-month-old as a lap child, as long as you take the trip before they turn two.  After that, they’ll need their own ticket.

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
American Airlines Charges 10% of the Full-Fare Cash Price for Lap Children Under 2 on International Flights

In most cases, American Airlines charges 10% of the full fare cash price for lap children under the age of two.  For coach tickets, this is usually good deal, but 10% of an expensive Business or First Class ticket can still be a lot of money!

American Airlines does NOT add fuel surcharges to flights between the US and the South Pacific.  But you’ll pay ~$124 per round-trip ticket in taxes.  So for family of 4, it costs just under ~$500 in taxes to fly to the South Pacific!

3.   Are There Lots of Award Seats Available?

The tricky part for this redemption is finding available saver award flights, especially during peak times like Spring Break, summer, and between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  So it’s best to book your South Pacific award as early as possible.

If you can’t find available seats to or from one city, try another.  American Airlines and its oneworld partner Qantas fly to a number of South Pacific cities, including Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, from US cities like Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
If You Can’t Find Available Seats to One Destination, Look at Others Instead! New Zealand Is Also Beautiful

Luckily, you don’t need to be flying out of these cities in order to book an award ticket to the South Pacific.  American Airlines will include your connecting ticket with the cost of your award, so you can connect from New York, Philadelphia, or any other domestic airport for the same price.

These aren’t the only ways to get to Australia with your American Airlines miles.  Technically, you can also book connecting awards on Air Tahiti Nui, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, LATAM, Qatar, Fiji Airways, Japan Airlines, and even Hawaiian Airlines.

However, these awards don’t show up on American Airlines’ website and require you to call in to book.  Additionally, because they require transiting another region (except Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways) you’ll pay much more for an award ticket.

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
Fiji Airways Tends to Have a Good Number of Available Award Seats in Coach, but You Might Not Want to Board Your Connecting Flight! 😉

If you’re having trouble finding available seats on American Airlines’ own flights, Fiji Airways does tend to release a good number of award seats in coach.  However, you’ll either need to call American Airlines to check for available seats, or look on Alaska Airlines’ website.

Air Tahiti Nui is another good option and usually has a decent number of available award seats.  You can check for available seats on ExpertFlyer.

So in terms of airline options, you have 2 main choices:  American Airlines and Qantas.  Some of your connecting legs may be on Alaska Airlines.

In the steps below, we’ll show you how to book an award ticket from the US to the South Pacific with American Airlines miles.  This process is the same for coach, Business Class, and First Class awards!

How to Book Flights to the South Pacific With American Airlines Miles

Step 1.   Navigate to the American Airlines Website

Go to the American Airlines website.  You’re not required to sign-in if you’re just searching and aren’t ready to book yet.

Step 2.   Enter Your Trip Details

Enter your preferred departure date, return date, how many passengers you want to book, and your departure and return cities.  Be sure to click the “Redeem Miles” checkbox too!

When everything is filled in, click the blue “Search” button!

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
Don’t Forget to Check ‘Redeem Miles’!

Step 3.   Look for Saver Award Seats

At the top of the screen you’ll see a row of six boxes.  You will want to look for your booking class followed by “MileSAAver”.  These are the lowest priced awards.  Click on the class of service you want (in this case, “Economy MileSAAver“).

Step 4.   Find Available Dates

The row of dates below the bar will show all available days with saver award seats.  If your class is available, the date will be highlighted in the same color as the button discussed above and display the number of miles required for a one-way flight.

For example, a coach saver date will light up in green and display “40K”.  That means a one-way flight is available for 40,000 American Airlines miles.

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
Find Dates With Available Seats in Your Desired Class of Service

Step 5.   Pick Your Outbound and Return Flight Dates

Click on the day you’d like to book to select your outbound flight.  Then scroll down to see your available return dates.  Select your return date the same way you did the inbound.

Note: If you can’t find available flights on the dates shown, click the left and right arrows on the sides of the availability calendar.  It will show you another week of dates! Or click “Show Full Calendar” to view 30 days of available dates.

Then, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the gray “Continue” button.

Step 6.   Choose Your Flights

You can now select your flights!  Look towards the center of the page and find your preferred outbound flight.  Click the “Flight Details” button to view connection times and more information.

Add the flight you want to your itinerary by clicking on it.

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
Select Your Flights at the Lowest Award Level

Step 7.   Pick a Return Flight

Look towards the left-hand side of the page and click on the “Return” button.  You can now select your return flight the same way you chose your outbound flight.

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
Selecting Your Return Flight is Just Like Selecting Your Outbound Flight

Step 8.   Sign Into Your Account and Complete Booking

Scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see a sign-in form.  Enter your American Airlines credentials and click the red “Log In” button.

Click the red Continue button on the page to be brought to the booking screen.  Then, enter the requested information on the booking page and press the blue “Continue” button at the bottom of the page to be brought to the payment page.

Ask An Award Booker How Can I Use 400000 American Airlines Miles For A Trip To The South Pacific
All That’s Left to Do Is Pay for Your Ticket!

Enter your payment button and click the red “Book” button at the bottom of the page.

Earn More American Airlines Miles

Want to book a trip like Million Mile Secrets reader Jason?  Consider these cards:

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are a good option to book award tickets to Australia, New Zealand, or other South Pacific destinations.  In reader Jason’s case, he has enough American Airlines miles to book round-trip coach award flights for his family of five!

Remember, you may need to be flexible with this award, because flights to the South Pacific are in high demand.  Consider traveling during off-peak times to find the most award seats.   American Airlines’ built-in calendar search tool is an easy way to search for available seats.  But certain partner flights (like Air Tahiti Nui or Fiji Airways) don’t appear in online search, so you’ll have to call in to book.

Thanks for the question, Jason!

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correction: 600,000 Chase and 300,000 Delta

I have over 800,000 points split between SPG/Marriott ( not counting the 3 to 1 conversion on aug 1.) 600,000 AMEX, 600, Chase. Plus 300,00 on Delta and United. I want to book Business Saver to Hong Kong, preferably on Cathay Pacific. Can you tell me the best way to do this for the least amount of points? Would consider other options other than CAthay Pacific if that made sense. Ticket would be one way.

Good report! I chose to fly AA on their 787 from LAX to Sydney and then connected onwards to Brisbane and Noumea (New Caledonia) all on one one-way ticket. And for those who are really ambitious it’s even possible to return from a different South Pacific island or even to use the miles to fly from the South Pacific via Syndey to South Africa on Qantas, which had excellent availability in my case. In my view given the generally high prices of flights within the South Pacific it can be an excellent use of miles if you do your research carefully.

Also note Fiji has the highest departure taxes of seemingly anywhere. Don’t be surprised when you see the final cost of taxes and fees.

In 2017, I was booking award space to Australia and New Zealand. I had almost 400k AA miles. I used the British Airways website to look for award space because they have access to partners such as Qantas and AA. I found two round trip biz class tickets and called AA up to book. They waive the phone booking fee because the award cannot be booked on-line through the AA website on a Qantas flight. We flew from Charlotte-San Francisco-Sydney-Cairns outbound and then Auckland-Los Angeles-Charlotte return. The flight from SFO-SYD was in the nose (business class) of a Qantas 747. AKL-LAX was in business on an AA 787. Both great flights!

The total cost in miles was 320,000 for the two business class flights. We also used 48k Starwood points for 5 nights at the Westin in downtown Sydney. We used 60k Hilton points for two nights at the DoubleTree in Christchurch, NZ and 90k points at the DoubleTree in Queenstown, NZ.

I’m looking to do something very similar from Charlotte. AA on the phone “can’t” book Qantas flights in October, even though they are available. Any tips to make that work?

I’m not sure why they can’t book it. I would just call back and get a different agent.

Randy Sawtelle

Great Idea, cant wait to follow the posts and learn more. I will be writing in the future for a planned trip my wife and I are going to be doing.

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